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Malaysian Alien


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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
The Interview That Was To Be

Today I’ve decided to talk about something other than emotional blahs. I think my mind needs to take a break. Actually my heart needs to take a break from all the thinking.

I find that time passes by very quickly. I don’t know whether it is because I have been immensely busy or if it’s because I am a little older now and older people feel that time passes by swiftly. Which is why they stop wasting time pursuing irrelevant things in life such as clubbing and shopping and decide to invest their time in baby farming.

I am not keen on baby farming at the moment, so I think I must still be quite young.


If you are wondering what I receive in my mailbox, I will now tell you that I receive a decent number of emails from readers who want to ask me a question or two. Most of their questions are of their personal relationship. I don’t think I am a guru in this relationship business although I was described as a relationship and sex guru in a magazine recently.

I think most readers write because they feel a need to connect. They are compelled to share their stories, the very same way I am propelled to share some of mine. I sincerely think that many already know the answers. They just wanted to hear it from someone else. Just like how I know the answers to my questions and yet I seek for readers to empathise and love me.

So as you can see, you and I are not too different at all. I might even be brave enough to say that we are all sitting on the same boat. The only difference is our destinations, which might differ and for most of our lives, it will remain unknown. Which clearly makes living a really happening course of action to pursue. You don’t know which boat you are rocking.

And if for a moment you think that I am a whole lot chirpier in this post, I will have to agree with you. Somehow there are lots of things to celebrate at 6 p.m. after a good day at work.

But that is not the thing that I want to share with you today.


The next question I often receive through my mailbox is my choice of books. Somehow many of you think that I must be very bookwormy since I want to be a writer. Quite a good deduction, I must say. However the deduction is quite untrue. I can never call myself a bookworm, mainly because I don’t consider myself to be one.

I enjoy reading quite a bit and when not buying books, I spend my spare time reading them. On any given day, I read a collection of two or more books. I mean, just look at my list of MiniBoyFriends. If I can keep a few at one time, you can be sure that I can juggle 3 books at a go. And true to form, I have 3 books by my bed stand at the moment.

Purchased on impulse a few months ago, I began reading Haruki Murakami’s collection of books – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman being the first. If I have to choose one of them as a representation of myself, I would choose “A Folklore for My Generation: A Prehistory of Late-Stage Capitalism”. Somehow that particular story represents all that is in me. Other favorite stories include "The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day" and “A Shinagawa Monkey”.

You can imagine how I felt after I read that book. Oh my god, this is my guru. Oh yes, I found out that day that my book (when it is finally written) will be classified in the same category as Murakami’s. And Elliot Perlman, when I read his “The Reasons I Won’t Be Coming”. Honestly, won’t you want to know what the reason was? I was.


I was stuck in traffic for the majority of Friday. I was in Clark at 12 noon, Makati at 3 p.m. and somewhere south of Manila at 7 p.m. It was quite a fascinating place, although I have been told to be extra careful when there. So I kept whatever little gold nuggets I had on before taking off at 7:20 a.m. to the Philippines.

Saw the smallest volcano, inactive of course. It was how I imagined it to be - a pristine ring of green in the middle of the sea. Something like a giant green donut, I guess. Then there were the locals, with their faces similar to the Malays here in Malaysia. ‘They are Malays too, just that they’ve migrated to the Philippines,’ said the locals. So the pretty Philippino Reah or Eia looked like the doe eyed Maya Karin from Malaysia.

So does this mean that the Philippino Reah gets special rights too? Seeing that she is afterall from the same bloodline as Maya Karin.


'Excuse me. Are you Sandara Park?'

'Erm, no I am not.'

'You look like Sandara. She's a popular actress here in the Philippines.'

That strange conversation happened more than I could keep track. Almost every single local I spoke to told me that I looked like an actress loved by many Philippinos, Sandara Park. Some online articles described her as an actress without substance. So I guess Sandara is like the Korean version of Paris.

And thanks to the security guards manning the gated community where I stayed, many of its residents started to visit my host's house, waiting to see Sandara Park having BBQ dinner. If you have been asked more than a dozen times if you were someone else, you would be curious to find out how that person looks. So I googled for Sandara when I returned home and found a photo of Sandara.

I am sorry to inform you that I do not resemble Sandara Park. Not even on my best hair days.

There is some resemblance if
you squint your eyes a little....


I have been thinking of Malaysia’s 50th year of independence. Specifically I have been thinking of what I am supposed to write. Several thoughts have been looping in my mind but I am still quite undecided. By now, you must have noticed that I have quite an opinion for almost anything under the sun and I have always some personal thoughts regarding the state of ‘we are not a secular state’ Malaysia.

I am also wondering how on earth are our universities going to compete with world class universities if we keep stuffing them full of people who are not qualified to be there in the first place.

I think I am quite colour blind. I think all poor people should be helped and I would be most happy to vote for the next politician who would offer true assistance to the needy. The last I have heard, the Indians are still living in derelict conditions in the rubber estates. I wished more could be done for the natives, who by definition, are the true prince of the land.


Whatever happened to my MiniBoyFriends? I am mighty happy to say that I saw MiniBoyFriend R about 2 Saturdays ago. We went for a drink and he promised to have breakfast with me on Monday, which he did not. So if you are reading this, you should be feeling really guilty.

Actually, not. I think people grow up and move on. Just like last night when D called me up for a chat. He was bored. Yes, the manager of a rather swanky drinking hole was bored and he looked for me for supper. But I was already sitting in bed with my favourite Murakami book and was not too eager to jump out of bed, like I used to.

The short conversation made me think of very pleasant and colourful nights. It was approximately 4 years ago when we met up but it feels like it was ten years ago. Strange how we get up one day and just decide to do some other thing. Namely, I have decided to move on to other things in my life. I guess the moment we realise that we are quite mortal is the exact moment we grew up. We can't live on forever and we develop priorities in life. We give up some to get some other. I won't call it sacrifice. I think it's just how life is.

But I still like my shoes high and my clothes tight. That bit of me stays forever. So even MiniBoyFriends come and go but the bad girl stays forever.

Someone asked me if he could do a feature me in a local female magazine. Whilst a little tight on time, I found no harm in doing so. Gentlemen’s agreement, isn’t it so? Then I found out that he had replaced me with some other bloggers while I was stuck in a traffic jam from Clark to Manila.

All I can say is thank you for thinking of me in the first place. Sorry that it didn’t work out and that I didn’t answer those questions on time. It doesn’t matter. Some other opportunities would pop up again, I guess. Till then, this is the interview that was to be.

Do you have what it takes?
You might notice that the template has changed. You might also notice that the banner isn't appearing at all. Can someone help me with this? I would appreciate a pretty banner for the above or just to help me stick my lousy design into the template. Thank you in advance.

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wow, new outlook


10:41 am  

Err.. I heard from a friend that its impossible to upload header to a new template in blogspot. She could be wrong.

I am a great fan of Haruki Murakami too. In fact - I am also reading Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman now. Oh.. so "A Folklore for My Generation: A Prehistory of Late-Stage Capitalism" is what describe your life now? :) I understand.

If not mistaken, "The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day" is probably the gist of the story "Kafka on the Shore". If you read "Elephant Vanishes" you would see some parts of "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle".

I just finished "Dabchick". Gonna let this set in the brain for awhile before reading on.

Good luck in your book.

3:31 am  

I liked the blue in the new template. Very soothing, I think. Reflects my mood in the last few weeks, I think.

Aiyoh.... no wonder my previous header was eaten by Blogspot. I thought I must have messed up the template code but now I know it's isn't really my careless mistake.

Yup, I was so moved by "A Folklore for My Generation" that I cried reading it and I read it twice in a row, just to absorb the essence.

I read Murukami's biography and it did mention that he wrote and rewrote some parts. So yes, if you read "Elephant Vanishes", you will find some bits of "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle".

I am fascinated by how he is able to come up with his story titles.

11:09 am  

hi...should i call you otto? yeah, thanks for the comment. Frankly I like to read ur blog =) And yeah, i am a chocoholic just to let you know. Do drop by in Penang one of these days, the scene is as laid back as it was but very much charming still. Read that you read, something which i wanted to do but cannot find the discipline. Im known to not finish books and I never own a book - come to think of it. Well, i like writing nevertheless - with the limited vocab, typical style and all.
anyway, where are you residing?
Cheers.. to life and Malaysia's 50th anniversary.

2:26 pm  

Guilty? You are the only friend I have there in that place. When I am not with you.... I am definately alone.

12:45 pm  

You can call me Otto anytime. I think I even respond to it in real life.

I commute between Europe and Malaysia whenever I feel bored of either city. Where possible, I hope to visit a few other cities under Tony F's "now everyone can fly" campaign.

Grey Boy
Wahhhhhhhhhhhh you come back this weekend, I belanja your next 3 vodka shots. Sayang you the most lah.

2:12 am  

what do you mean by this?

"I am also wondering how on earth are our universities going to compete with world class universities if we keep stuffing them full of people who are not qualified to be there in the first place."

5:40 am  

I meant the placement of students into courses that they will find hard to complete. It is unrealistic to expect students to complete a bachelor degree if they do not possess the necessary skills and knowledge in the said subject.

Universities need to maintain a certain standard and produce graduates of a certain calibre and skill. I have seen doctors who cannot utter a word in English walking around our government hospitals. At the same time I have had the pleasure of knowing some graduates with very sharp minds.

Set your standards high and you will produce good & innovative students. Set your standards low and you will produce people with paper qualifications but no inspiration nor passion for their work. It isn't all mind and brain knowledge. It's also ethics and behaviour towards the discipline.

5:59 am  

im not sure of which university you are talking about. but generally i disagree with you. malaysia did set certain requirement to enter public universities and to highlight the medicine.nowdays you MUST score straight A's to get less then that.even sometimes straight A's doesnt guarantee you of getting accepted.for other fields such as engineering they will need to reach a minimum gred in some subjects considered important according to respective field. so i can ensure you that these students "possess the necessary skills and knowledge in the said subject".the entry requirement defers from each fields.

you did mention however that some doctors cannot utters even a word of english.i agree. to some extent our universities graduate are lacking in term of soft skills.but this problems has been distinguish by the ministry and now universities are taught using english medium,undergraduates are make compulsory to take communication skill courses before the graduate to name a few initiative.putting aside the soft skills,our graduates are as good as one from abroad in term of calibre and skill.

you also mention about "It isn't all mind and brain knowledge. It's also ethics and behaviour towards the discipline".im confident, thoroughout the world all universities entry requirement are result oriented.malaysia through SPM,U.K through A levels, United States through SAT. did they accept student with the best ethic and behaviour? no.they accept student according to their performance.besides a few top universities (MIT,Cambridge,etc)which require interview, others use the same method of accepting i can conclude that it is all about mind and brain knowledge.

i think its wrong for you to judge our universities by saying "I am also wondering how on earth are our universities going to compete with world class universities if we keep stuffing them full of people who are not qualified to be there in the first place." if i am going to repharase that.i will blame A FEW malaysian student which have the brain (yup they r qualified), given the opportunity but doesnt capitalise it.too sad.

i dont know which year are you referring to when you post the comment. but nowdays,students are getting smarter.10 years back, its hard to see student with straight A's.but know days straight A's student are everywhere.there are stiff competition to enter university.our university had to choose the best of them.resulting some really good student denied their places (esp medicine). maybe our university are not yet world class.but i can see we are moving towards the direction.

note: i am referring on public university such as UPM, UM, UTM etc.not some unknown college.

9:16 am  

A friend of mine who lectured in a local university mentioned that the standard was very poor when she lectured a few years ago. In bachelor of music, some of the students had only grade one or two. That's what I was refering to.

It would be so stressful for the student to receive a bachelor of music if he/she didn't even complete music grades.

But I am glad to hear that it has changed nowadays. That is so positive and I am more than happy to apologize if I am mistaken in my judgement.

Ethics and behaviour are key elements. They are equally as important as possessing knowledge and skills in the area. For example, I had hired some people in previous years who take leave every week, stating that they have to help their kampong people to:

1. prepare for kenduri kahwin.
2. prepare for funerals etc.
3. prepare for some celebrations like Hari Raya, berkhatan etc.

They took leaves almost every single week. It was strenuous and exhausting for the rest of us who had to cope with the lack of staff on certain days.

In the US, it is important to excel in some other activity other than academics. Hence sports such as basketball helped set these students apart, as being all-rounders.

Have you not considered that perhaps there are more straight As these days because the standard for receiving the As have been lowered?

Eg: maybe 10 years ago, it requires 95% to get an A and maybe now in 2007, it requires only 90% or less.

I am obviously assuming this because I do not have any facts to back me up. I am not working in some Kementerian Pendidikan and I do not mark the papers.

But I truly applaud our government's decision to use English as the medium of instruction for Science and Maths from Primary One. We are many years behind countries such as Burma, which implimented this years ago but better late than never.

10:14 am  

if in music field you r talking about then i probably agree with you. the r only a few university in Malaysia that offer courses for music ie:MMU and Lim Kok Wing are the famous don't know of particular requirement to enter universities for music.but i know you need to master at least 1 music instrument to me myself play piano teacher keep stressing us to complete both the theory and practical to 8th grade if we are considering music as our career(which im not).she teach several student from MMU that join her to learn music instrument. im quite shock myself for a music undergraduate they doesn't play any instrument and yeah its kind of ridiculous.

in term of ethic and behavior.its more to individual factor rather then university factor.yeah university can play their part to instill a good ethic among their graduates but in the end the decision to change are made by one selves.

in Malaysia we are trying to develop well rounded student as well.but the fact is people look at grade 1st and extra curricular activities as a plus.some student tend to focus on academic.perhaps this is the area we can improve to produce a well balance graduate.

then the low standard of receive A's.this issue have been raise and debatable for quite some times. fyi i also don't work in some Kementerian Pendidikan and I do not mark the papers i can comment much.but my experience in taking SPM(2003) myself.its not to hard but not easy either.if you put your mind into in and with some effort.everyone can do well.


5:10 pm  

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